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Plant Safety

Baby pulling a flower Baby pulling a flower  

If your child eats or gets a skin reaction after touching a plant, berry, seed, bulb or wild mushroom that you think may be poisonous, call your local poison centre immediately.

When you call the poison centre, be prepared to give the following information:

  • your child's age
  • any symptoms or illness your child displays
  • the name of plant (if you know it) – the poison specialists at the centre cannot identify plants over the phone
  • how much and what parts were eaten
  • how recently the plant was eaten or touched.

The poison specialist will tell you what to do and what symptoms to watch for. Remember, each child can react differently to the same plant. You can take a photo of what was eaten or touched to show your doctor.

How to prevent poisoning from plants

  • To be safe, keep all plants, berries, seeds, and bulbs out of reach of young children.
  • When outdoors, teach your child to stay away from plants and not to eat any non-food items.
  • Make sure you and your child’s caregivers know the names of all plants and trees inside and outside your home.
  • It’s a good idea to leave the tags on all items you bring home from a plant nursery. If you don’t know the names, an expert from a plant nursery may be able to help you identify the plant and give you a tag to place near your plant.
  • Do not assume that a plant is safe for people just because birds or wildlife eat it.
  • Jewellery, crafts and maracas, especially those bought outside of Canada, may contain poisonous seeds.
  • Do not suck nectar from flowers or make tea from flowers or leaves.

Poisonous plants

  • Some plants will not cause serious poisoning unless a large amount is eaten.
  • Seeds or pits from apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, and peaches are poisonous, but only if they are eaten in large amounts. Accidentally swallowing a few seeds will not cause illness.
  • Cactus plants can cause skin irritation and should be kept away from children.​

Examples of poisonous plants

Note: This is not a complete list.

  • Amaryllis
  • Angel’s Trumpet
  • Arrowhead vine
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Azalea
  • Bittersweet
  • Black Locust
  • Boston Ivy
  • ​Caladium
  • Calla Lily
  • Castor Bean
  • Chinese Lantern Plant
  • Clematis
  • Cotoneaster
  • Crocus, Autumn
  • Croton
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Daisy (Chrysanthemum)
  • Delphinium
  • Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
  • Dumb Cane
  • Elephant’s Ear
  • English Ivy
  • Eucalyptus
  • Euonymus
  • Foxglove
  • Gladiola
  • Holly
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit
  • Jequirity Bean
  • Jerusalem Cherry
  • Jimson Weed
  • Larkspur
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Lobelia
  • Lupine
  • Marijuana
  • Milkweed
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkshood
  • Morning Glory
  • Mother-in-law Plant
  • Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plant
  • Narcissus
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Peony
  • Periwinkle (Vinca)
  • Philodendron
  • Poison Ivy
  • Poison Oak
  • Pokeweed
  • Potato (all green parts)
  • Pothos
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb Leaves
  • Rosary Bean
  • Snake Berry
  • Snow on the Mountain
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Tobacco
  • Tomato (plant & unripe fruit)
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Water Hemlock
  • Wisteria
  • Yew

Non-poisonous plants

  • A person is not likely to get ill from these plants, but certain people may have an unusual reaction.
  • A young child may choke on any plant, even if it not poisonous.
  • Some non poisonous plants may be harmful to pets. Call your vet for more information.

Examples of non-poisonous plants

Note: This is not a complete list.

  • African Violet
  • Alyssum
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Astilbe
  • Baby’s Breath*
  • Baby’s Tears
  • Bachelors Buttons
  • Black-eyed Susan*
  • Boston Fern
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Coleus*
  • Coral Bells
  • Cosmos
  • Crocus (spring blooming only)
  • Dahlia*
  • Dandelion
  • Daylily*
  • Dracaena
  • Easter Lily
  • Evening Primrose
  • Ficus Benjamina*
  • Freesia
  • Fuchsia
  • Gardenia*
  • Gloxinia
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Hens and Chicks
  • Hibiscus*
  • Hollyhock
  • Honey Locust
  • Hoya
  • Impatiens
  • Jade Plant
  • Maple (seeds and young leaves)
  • Marigold*
  • Money Plant
  • Mountain Ash
  • Mulberry
  • Peperomia
  • Persian Violet
  • Petunia
  • Phlox
  • Poinsettia**
  • Polka-dot Plant
  • Portulaca
  • Prayer Plant
  • Primrose*
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Rose*
  • Rubber Plant*
  • Schefflera*
  • Snapdragon
  • Spider Plant
  • Spiraea
  • Statice*
  • Tulip*
  • Wandering Jew*
  • Weeping Fig*
  • Weigela
  • Yucca
  • Zinnia

*These plants may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

**This plant may cause skin irritation and mild nausea or vomiting.

What to do if your child eats a poisonous plant

  • If your child puts a plant in their mouth, do not taste the plant yourself to check if it is poisonous.
  • If your child is choking or unconscious or has trouble breathing or swallowing, call 911 immediately.

If your child appears well:

  • look for pieces of the plant in their mouth
  • remove any pieces of the plant you can see
  • give them small sips of water
  • do not try to make him throw up
  • call your local poison information centre.

What to do if your child touches a poisonous plant

  • Some plants may cause skin irritation, itching, a rash or blisters.
  • Wash the skin immediately with lots of soap and lukewarm water.
  • Call your local poison information centre.

Mushroom safety

Poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms grow side by side. Only a mushroom expert, called a mycologist, can tell them apart.

It is dangerous to eat any mushroom that you find outdoors. Cooking outdoor mushrooms does not make them safe to eat.

Eating even small parts of some mushrooms can cause sickness or death. A person may not become ill until many hours after eating a mushroom.

How to reduce the chances of mushroom poisoning

  • Remove and throw away all mushrooms growing near your home.
  • Check your lawn for mushrooms before children go outdoors to play, especially after a rainfall.
  • Call your local poison centre as soon as possible. Do not wait until your child feels sick.

Key points

  • Keep all plants, berries, seeds, and bulbs out of reach of young children.
  • Do not assume that a plant is safe for people just because birds or wildlife eat it.
  • A young child may choke on any plant, seed, berry, bulb or mushroom.
  • If your child puts a plant in their mouth, do not taste the plant yourself to check if it is poisonous.
  • Some plants may cause skin irritation, itching, a rash or blisters. Wash the skin immediately with lots of soap and lukewarm water.
​Shawna Silver, MD, FRCPC, FAAP, PEng
5/15/2014

Prepared by The Ontario Poison Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario.





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